Bret Bielema’s first two games against Alabama as the Arkansas coach couldn’t be more opposite. In 2013, the Crimson Tide dominated the Razorbacks, 52-0. Last year, Arkansas almost pulled off the upset at home but fell, 14-13.
So when the Hogs and Tide battle it out Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Bielema said he was eager to see how far his team has come since he took over in Fayetteville.
“I’m just really excited,” Bielema said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference. “I’ve got a lot of respect for this program, and to go over there and to see how much growth we’ve had since my first year when we got beat 52-0. It was probably one of the most embarrassing losses for me personally as a head coach. I’m excited to see our growth.”
Alabama has won eight straight games against Arkansas, but Bielema said he’s not a believer that a losing streak plays a role psychologically.
“You try to focus on the now as a program,” Bielema said. “We’ve had to break a lot of those streaks unfortunately. Hopefully, we’re going to start to build some of our own.”
Although breaking the losing streak won’t be a part of Bielema’s message to his team as they prepare for Saturday’s contest, the Arkansas coach did say the task of playing a team like Alabama on the road presents an opportunity for his team.
“The good news is we’ve had a lot of practice in away stadiums, but nothing compares you for this venue,” Bielema said. “It’s one of the best I’ve ever been in in college football. Not only do you have a great football team, you have a great crowd, great environment, very good coaching staff and some really good players in the field. It’s a tremendous task with a very good opportunity to see where we’re at.
“I think our kids are very excited to get over there and see what we can do.”